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Drake‘s ‘If You’re Reading’ marks the end of a chapter—and sets up the next

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Toronto transition: Drake’s mixtape-turned-album shows he’s headed in a new direction.
Max Plenke

Three stars

Drake If You're Reading This It's Too Late

If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late was originally meant to be released as a free mixtape spread around the Internet with the tight-lipped poise of a pack of boars. But as the story goes, Drake’s label decided to release it as a full-length. That is, 17 songs of what you could probably call a means of thinning a creativity clot and isn’t, by a long shot, a cohesive project or even representative of the obsessive production showcased in a typical Drake record. Regardless of its strength as an album, however, it’s the fourth of Drake’s four-record contract, leaving one of the biggest musical acts of right now open to becoming a free agent and, with that, regaining complete creative control of his craft, which he hasn’t had since signing in 2009.

At this point IYRTITL is discussed more for its music biz politics than its actual tracklist. The album is darker, sparsely produced and hostile, more gym than bedroom in songs “Energy” and “6 God,” and at times bordering on unveiled late-night thoughts set to a trap beat’s constant hi-hat. At risk of using a throwaway word, it’s interesting, both for better (no pandering rap singles) or worse (no singles in general). Glass half-full, the tape quietly released on iTunes is a way to shed some musical bureaucracy and refocus on the next project, an album allegedly titled Views From the 6 (a nickname for Toronto, Drake’s hometown) which, given the outcome of the mixtape/album debate, will present us with a Drake we haven’t seen in six years.

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